NAMM 2014: Best Of The Rest

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namm NAMM 2014
Last updated 11 August, 2017

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Namm-2014-Main
The sun shone and the mood was bright and optimistic too at NAMM 2014 around DJ and pro audio companies. Here is our roundup of gear we’ve not had the time yet to cover, and be warned… there’s lots of it!

So we’re safely back in the Digital DJ Tips offices after a fantastic NAMM Show 2014, and as ever the first task is to trawl through all those mobile phone shots, press releases, and scrawled notes on the back of taxi receipts, to assemble our list of gear we’ve not managed to get around to covering yet.

Read on for some great DJ bags and cases, audio interfaces, controllers, mixers, speakers, headphones, stands and much more. Enjoy!

NAMM 2014: Best Of The Rest

Numark DJ IO2

DJ-IO2
With a smarter design, the DJ iO2 nonetheless retains all the functionality of the original, including a mic socket, missing from some of its rivals.

Smaller and more modern looking than the Numark DJ IO audio interface that it replaces, Numark’s DJ IO2 is a four-out audio interface. It plugs into your PC/Mac (Numark wasn’t advertising iOS compatibility) and gives you two independent stereo audio outputs, so you can plug both headphones and speakers in at once, and listen to something different on each. Such interfaces are useful if you play laptop-only, have a DJ controller without an audio interface built in, or are assembling a modular set-up.

The Numark model differentiates itself from that other go-to DJ audio interface, the Native Instruments Traktor Audio 2, by also having a microphone socket, making it the better choice out of the two for mobile DJs. Its 24-bit/96kHz sound card assures audio quality, and the unit needs no external power, taking what it needs via the USB connection to the computer.


UDG Digi Hard Cases Large

UDG Digi Hard Case Large
A really smart idea for the DJ with a more complex set-up, this packs a powered USB hub with international adaptor, with room for a host of your other leads and connectors too.

Here’s a smart idea for the DJ or producer who goes on the road with a complcated set-up involving a lot of modular gear: A case that has a powered USB hub (with transformer and plugs for all major territories worldwide).

Everything is securely held in place with stitched-in elastic nylon strips and mesh bags, and the whole lot zips together around three sides. Depending on your set-up, it could even be possible to wire everything up without even removing the hub from the bag, keeping things neat for packing down after your gig.


Hercules DG400BB Laptop Stand

One of the smartest laptop stands we've seen in a while, this little unit is rock solid and folds up nice and compact.
One of the smartest laptop stands we’ve seen in a while, this little unit is rock solid and folds up nice and compact.

We really loved this innovative laptop stand in a design unlike any we’ve seen before. Firstly, it is absolutely rock solid, with none of the wobble traditional U-type laptop stands, even the very best ones inevitably have. Secondly, it folds up really small (although not quite flat).

Decent quality and coming with its own heavy-duty carrying bag, the Hercules DG400BB (don’t confuse the brand with that other Hercules, the DJ controller manufacturer) is also height-adjustable, and the makers claim it can hold up to 22lbs, which coupled with the unmoving platform it provides, means it could work well with controllers, too.


DJ-Tech CTRL

DJ-Tech CTRL
Can control all your extra FX, cues, sampler etc for up to four decks, and well made to boot: The DJ-Tech CTRL.

DJ-Tech was full of surprises this year at NAMM, all pleasant. Here’s a great little controller for DVS users, to offer back all the knobs, buttons and encoders you’d otherwise miss when using digital vinyl or CDJs, namely loops, FX, cues, sampler, track loading and so on.

The CTRL is a nicely made unit with a full metal jacket, first, backlit buttons and decent quality knobs and encoders, and being DJ-Tech, is going to hit stores at a price lower than the competition for a product in every way as good.


UDG Urbanite Flight Bags

UDG Flight Bags
One of a range, this is a great value flight-style bag, perfectly suited to the prosumer and semi-pro DJ.

Heralding the arrival of a new range of products from UDG aimed at the more price-conscious end of the market, the Urbanite Flight Bags nonetheless maintain UDG’s quality.

Not always strictly designed to be actually take into plane cabins (the larger ones are too big for that), they nonetheless have that aesthetic, with no outside pockets meaning the smaller model definitely can accompany you as you fly, sliding easily under your seat and keeping a smaller DJ controller plus all your accessories safely stowed.


Gemini Slate 4 DJ Controller

Slate 4
Full RGB, metal case, four channels… that’ll be $249, please.

An early prototype of this forthcoming ultras-value controller from Gemini, the US$249 Slate 4 – like the Slate 2 later in this round-up – is metal constructed and manages to pack in 16 RGB performance pads as part of a pretty impressive package for the price. It comes with Virtual DJ LE.

Unusually some of the controls and the mic/headphone sockets are on the left-hand edge of the controller, along with the cue volume, which is one control we didn’t like on the prototype, being very small and hard to turn and curiously positioned for such an important knob. Maybe this will get rethought before production.


Magma Riot-DJ Backpack for DDJ-SX

Magma Riot
It’s bigger than a man! The Magma Riot pack for the DDJ-SX is certainly huge…

So here’s a bigger version of the popular Riot XL. Here, the extra space means that Magma has been able to ditch the two pockets on the front and go with three.

Apart from that it’s business as usual with the same space-efficient rectangular shape, but of course the extra dimensions mean that your Pioneer DDJ-SX is going to fit just fine in there.


Samson Graphite MF8 USB Midi Controller

Samson Graphite
A neat little controller for DJ-oriented Ableton Live sessions, well made and small enough to fit in a (long) pocket.

This is a nice, compact controller with a decent build quality (metal housing) and is clearly aimed at DJ types with the addition of a crossfader. It was shown working with Ableton Live, which would make sense looking at the individual channel controls.

Each of the eight channels has record and mute/solo buttons, a slider and a control knob, and there’s a master encoder with four buttons (including two layer buttons), a full transport section, plus five parameter buttons. Of course, everything’s Midi mappable to allow you to use it with the software of your choice, and the unit is USB powered.


UDG Creator Controller Hard Case

The UDG Creator series delivers practical, good value solutions, including this no-frills hard case that nonetheless has a useful extra top pad inside to protect your knobs, buttons and faders.
The UDG Creator series delivers practical, good value solutions, including this no-frills hard case that nonetheless has a useful extra top pad inside to protect your knobs, buttons and faders.

Offering basic, no frills protection for your DJ controller, these cases nonetheless have a decent level of foam padding to guard the knobs and fader on the top of your gear.

They’d be idea for stashing your kit at home when you’re not using it, or for taking your controller to the occasional party or event, without breaking the bank (or occupying too much space when not actually in use).


The One v1.5

The One 1.5
More streamlined, more stable, better controller support and mapping… The One is coming of age.

We were impressed with the 1.5 version of The One, the modular DJ software that lets you DJ with sections of different tracks spliced together to make new master tracks, among other things.

The software is now easier to understand, more streamlined, more solid, with coloured waveforms, easier mapping, and out-of-the box support for more controllers. The makers told us they’d tweaked the user interface to make it easier for DJs to realise that you can DJ on this “normally”, the considerable innovations it offers being there only if you need or want them.


Namba XL Backpack

Namba XL
All the same features as the Big and L’il Namba backpacks, but in a form factor just right for the Kontrol S4…

Joining the L’il Namba Remix and the Big Namba Studio backpacks shortly will be this XL version of the same design, which we caught a glimpse of in prototype at the show. the big piece of news here is that it fits the Kontrol S4 perfectly, while retaining the “no side pockets” streamlined aesthetic of the smaller cousins.

There are other improvements too like better edging stitching on the shoulder straps (for those of us who like to carry our bags on one shoulder), and improved ventilation on the back to cope with the heavier weights likely to go into the bigger dimensions of the bag.


Vestax VCI-400 The One Edition

VCI-400 The One
The One gets a fully mapped version of this popular controller, which is a smart move to show off the software’s performance credentials.

Here’s the first DJ controller specifically made – or more accurately, adapted – to be used with The One (see above). This special edition of the VCI-400 will probably be toned down visually when it is launched to the public, but the important thing is that the mapping and labelling are designed to let DJs harness some of the power of this software.

It’s a smart move, because of all the DJ software out there, The One has up until now suffered from the misconception that it is more for “production lite” than performance DJing. Having a quality DJ controller set up specially to use with it should begin to correct that though in the minds of DJs who maybe were scratching their heads about this.


Monoprice 605500 five-inch powered studio monitor speakers

monoprice 5
These speakers appear well made and certainly offer great value for money.

Monoprice was pushing its business model hard at the NAMM Show, claiming to cut out the middleman on its own-branded range of audio gear that’s sold exclusively from the company’s US internet store, and so offer the same quality as others for less.

We didn’t get a chance to test the audio quality of these five-inch monitors, but they certainly appeared well-made and of comparable quality to other entry-level monitors, and that price is certainly attractive for what you get, and the company has a 14-day returns policy on orders so you could test that part out for yourself if you wanted to try them.


Magma Digi Control Bag – DDJ-SR Edition

Magma DDJ-SR
New sizes for new controller: The latest in this ever-expanding range of good value cases.

We all know it’s important that your gear fits snugly in your bag; too tight, and you risk bending knobs and buttons squeezing it all in, and too loose, and it rattles around in there, losing some of the protection oafforded were the bag to be just the right size.

Enter this new version of Magma’s popular Digi Control Bag series, this time designed especially for the Pioneer DDJ-SR, which (as you can see from the photo), fits perfectly, even with a Decksaver case for added protection against catching those knobs, buttons or faders in transit (Decksaver sold separately, of course).


M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro

Trigger Finger Pro
Thoroughly updated, the Trigger Finger Pro ships with a wealth of software to get you started fast.

The infamous Trigger Finger pad controller is back, as M-Audio releases the Trigger Finger Pro, on show for the first time at NAMM 2014. With 16 RGB pads, a full onboard step sequencer, a high re screen, and a host of faders, knobs, button and banks, it improves markedly on the original – not surprising seeing as it was almost 10 years ago the original was released.

The supplied Arsenal software allows for instant DAW/VST integration, or operates as a standalone program. There are also AIR Drums and Hybrid 3, two dynamic VST instrument programs, a drum sample player/editor compatible with REX files, and a high definition analog synth suite.


Sennheiser HD6, HD7 & HD8 Headphones

Sennheiser HD8s
Sennheiser’s new range (these are the HD8s) offer high-end but understated DJ headphones with subtly differing characteristics.

Sennheiser’s legendary HD25s became DJ headphones by accident (just like Technics turntables became DJ turntables by accident) – they were never meant for DJ use. Now, all these years later, Sennheiser has produced its first DJ headphone range, at a high-end $280 for the HD6, $329 for the HD7 and $389 for the HD8.

Inevitably looking more like “DJ” headphones than the HD25s, these are nonetheless refreshingly understated, and have all the usuals (coiled and straight cables, detachable, pivoting earcups), although there are subtle design and sound difference between them, one model (the HD7s) being a flatter frequency response, the other two being bass-heavy (HD6) and bass/treble heavy (HD8). All are premium in build, and the HD8s especially are really nicely finished with aluminium earcup pivots – as you’d expect for the price.


UDG Urbanite Sleeve Bags

This new model offers value but versatility too with both carry handle and shoulder strap.
This new model offers value but versatility too with both carry handle and shoulder strap.

With a simple but effective design and a keen price point, this range of well-padded soft DJ bags bearing UDG’s new Urbanite label can workwith a wide variety of controllers, thanks to their configurable and removable padding blocks.

There’s even a guide showing exactly how to configure the padding for a whole host of popular DJ controller to ensure the perfect fit no matter what the exact dimensions of yuor particular unit


Gemini Slate 2 DJ Controller

Slate 4
The Gemini Slate 2 is built in metal, offers two software channels, RGB pads, and still comes in at under $200.

An early prototype of this forthcoming controller from Gemini, the US$199 Slate 2 – like the Slate 4 earlier in this round-up – is metal constructed and manages to pack in 16 RGB performance pads as part of a pretty impressive package for the price. It comes with Virtual DJ LE.

Unusually some of the controls and the mic/headphone sockets are on the left-hand edge of the controller, along with the cue volume, which is one control we didn’t like on the prototype, being very small and hard to turn and curiously positioned for such an important knob. Maybe this will get rethought before production.


DJ-Tech DIF-4S scratch mixer

DIF-4S
Packing in an awful lot for your money, the DIF-4s has great build quality and a wealth of I/Os.

Following on from the QBert-approved DIF-2S, this four channel version is a similarly pleasant surprise: Really well made in metal, with an Innofader insider and all the basics necessary for good old-fashioned analogue scratch DJing.

Of course, you could use this alongside your SL4 or Audio 10 as a DVS mixer as well, and indeed for any installation, home or club, where a really high quality, basic scratch mixer is required, the DIF-4S delivers, at a lower expected price point than pretty much all the rest. Good work, DJ-Tech!


Orbit Concepts Jetpack II DJ Bag

Jetpack
The neat Jetpack bag has room inside to fit this charging pack for your iPad or phone, with clever wire holes so you can even charge your phone as you’re using it!

Here’s a DJ bag that follows on from the popular original Jetpack bag, with some useful features that show the thought that’s been put into it by this DJ-led company. About the right size for a Vestax VCI-380, this bag is also useful for DVS DJs. It’s compact with no side pockets but thanks to its rectangular shape, it can hold a surprising amount.

Among its features are a built-in pocket for a phone/tablet battery pack that thanks to the cable routing can be used either while you’re using your device or with the device in the bag, room for DVS vinyl, weatherproof zip covers, and thumb loops on the backpack strap adjuster tapes. You can even zip out the front section, to personalise the bag by having it embroidered with your DJ logo, for instance.


Epsilon Pro-Mix 2

Gloss white, chequered mixer, chrome knobs... this me-too 2-channel controller at least deigns to look a little different.
Gloss white, chequered mixer, chrome knobs… this me-too 2-channel controller at least deigns to look a little different.

This brand is new to us, and while its products are certainly me-too in nature, the controller range doesn’t look too bad and has distinctive styling if you like the polished chrome-looking knobs and while glossy fascia shown here (this model was also available in black).

This is a basic two-channel controller roughly equivalent to something like the original Mixtrack Pro (ie before that particular model got the currently trendy performance pads), and it comes with Virtual DJ LE.


Casio XW-J1 iOS DJ Controller

xw-j1
Casio’s XW-J1 is basically the Vestax Spin2 rebadged, operating with Algoriddim’s djay and vjay software.

Included here as a curiosity really, the Casio XW-J1 iOS DJ controller may well look familiar to you – and that’s because it’s basically a rebadged Vestax Spin2.

Like the Spin2, then, it uses Algoriddim’s djay software, and provides a simple, entry-level way to get DJing on your iOS device. I wonder whether Vestax is intending on abandoning this end of the market under its own badge and concentrating the Vestax name on higher end gear?


Mr DJ MVDJ-4000 DJ controller

mr-dj
Looking suspiciously like it’s sneaked out of the same factory as a previous Gemini model, this takes our ‘worst name’ award.. Mr DJ. Hmmm…

Appearing to be from the same factory as the now discontinued early Gemini DJ controllers, this cheap feeling and looking device has passable jogwheels and would be OK for a beginner to take first steps on.

It comes with a cut-down version of MixVibes’ Cross DJ software, and is unremarkable in just about every respect, but it you saw it at a low price it could be worth considering if your ambitions are just to mess around at home occasionally. TERRIBLE named company, though 😉


Monoprice 614320 2-Channel DJ Mixer With USB

monoprice-mixer
Great value little two-channel USB mixer… can’t complain at this price.

This is a real bargain: A $49 mixer, well-made in metal, with switchable phone/line inputs, a total of seven inputs, and a USB sound card on board for two-channel mixing from DJ software.

It only has two-band EQ per channel, but there are VU meters, a mic channel and of course cue monitoring, and for this price it’s a bargain. If (like us) you think it’s well worth having a two-channel mixer knocking around for occasional use, but can’t justify the expense of a top brand, this might well be the one for you.


Epsilon Quad-Mix

epsilon quad
Glossy black, chrome knobs, a decent amount of controls… if you see it at a bargain price, may be worth a punt.

In passing looking oddly like the American Audio VMS4.1, this four-channel DJ controller from Epsilon isn’t too bad, with the same quite attractive shiny chrome ed knobs used on the Pro-Mix 2 we covered earlier in the round-up, but now with two external inputs, per-channel filters, and switchable crossfader curve.

While offering nothing particularly outstanding, and sporting a high-gloss black finish that is a magnet for fingerprints, this Virtual DE LE-powered unit does have balanced XLR outs and adjustable jogwheel sensitivity, and offers good value for those wanting a four-channel mixer with external inputs at a low price.


Neutrik convertCoN Cable Connectors

convertcon
One slide and they convert from male to female… neat idea.

We thought this was a really smart idea. It’s a balanced XLR connector, but with a twist: It’s possible to convert either of the plugs from male to female. you don’t need any tools to do it; you just slide the outer housing of the plug you want to convert and it’s done.

It rotates the ground, positive and negative pins automatically, and basically means that if you regularly set up A or mixer equipment in different venues and permutations, or if you like to carry XLR cables “just in case” in our DJ bag, using these ones will ensure you never get caught out with the wrong type to hand.


Monoprice 605300 3-inch Powered Monitor Speakers

Monoprice
Great little speakers for the money, well made and a good alternative to the M-Audio AV40s, at least on build quality.

Another good looking little design from Monoprice, these compact monitors are likely to appeal to people looking at speakers like M-Audio’s popular but more expensive AV40s.

Like the AV40s, they have a handy aux in on the front, as well as a headphones socket, and they even share the AV40s’ blue backlit volume control. Ultimately they’re not quite as good looking in my opinion, but they still appear to be a decent buy if you don’t have room for anything bigger in your set-up, such as the other Monoprice model we featured earlier in this roundup.


What did you like the look of most (or least) above? Please share your thoughts in the comments…

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